Like most seniors, over half of my post-college plans depend on the acquisition of a winning lottery ticket or a superpower, preferably one that lets me shoot pinecones from my eyebrows. Surprisingly, this approach might not lead to the wild success I anticipated in the real world. Unlike the realm of the liberal arts college, which is founded upon the principles of humanism, activism, and botulism, the real world relies upon more tangible values, like job experience, networking skills, and botulism. Really, that last one is pretty universal. The only consolation I have from my long and fruitless collegiate career is that I’m hardly alone in my lack of preparation for the job market. For everyone who finds themselves on the cusp of graduation, here’s what to expect in the real world.
The first reality you need to prepare yourself for is the total absence of fun. If you smile in the real world, a bureaucrat is required by law to shoot a puppy. If you don’t believe me, just look it up. The policy is listed somewhere below the statute that requires you to become a vegetarian and drive a hybrid. Being an adult means always feeling guilty for killing something, regardless of if that killing comes in the form of environmental pollution or the puppy genocide you caused with your naturally cheerful disposition. Remember, it’s always sunny somewhere, and that somewhere is most likely covered in blood and puppy chunks.
Did you just smile at this picture? If so, both of these puppies are already dead. (Photo courtesy of http://www.bananabeltboats.com/images/puppies/More%201Puppies.jpg)
A second reality you need to prepare yourself for is soul-crushing poverty. Being repeatedly denied in one’s attempts to achieve gainful employment is considered a vocation in some parts of the world. You happen to live in one of them. The best you can hope for is to become part of the system by ruining the career aspirations of those around you. Agree to proofread a friend’s résumé. Then, in the section for hobbies and other interests, slyly slip in the phrase “serial rapist” or “twentieth-hijacker.” Then break his knee caps. For liability purposes, employers are only allowed to hire terrorists who have two working legs. Just be aware that your friends are planning to do the same thing to you – if they haven’t done it already. Check your knee caps and your status on the federal no-fly list just to be sure.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t reward idleness, so you’ll need to find a way to fill your many, many months of repeated employment rejections. It’s a good idea to be able to claim you’ve achieved something in your post-college years besides significant weight gain and a working knowledge of the language of the ants. Again, that’s not the type of story that will impress someone from the real world, which exists for the sole purpose of crushing your hopes, dreams, and charming anecdotes about breakthroughs in human-ant communication. Instead, fill the gaps in your résumé with lies about charitable activities you could have been doing instead of spending forty hours a week failing at job interviews. Two options that come to mind are building homes for the underprivileged and feeding vagrants to bears. Remember, the grander the lie, the better your chances of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for eliminating homelessness. The smaller the lie, the better your chances of winning a swift kick to the balls for being too much of a coward to defraud a prestigious international organization just to gain access to the open bar afterwards.
In the real world, unemployment benefits run out after five years, so at that point you’ll either find a job or join the vagrants in the bear pit. The bears won’t care how you dress, but your place of employment will. Men in the real world are expected to wear a shirt and tie at all times, even while sleeping in bed or swimming in a pool. It sends the message that you’re professional, but not quite professional enough to change your clothes because of something as trivial as getting your tie lodged in that grate at the bottom of the deep end. Besides, if you hold your breath long enough, all of the water will pretty much evaporate. The real-world dress code for those of the female persuasion is somewhat less fatal. Women are expected to wear comfortable shoes at all times. That way they’ll have excellent lower lumbar support for all the cupcake-baking and childbearing they’ll be doing every day for the rest of their lives. That might not be the life you envisioned for yourself, but it doesn’t matter; the world needs lots of babies to replace all of the professionals who get their ties stuck in pool grates.
Hoth is a fictional world, but like the real one, it’s cold, hostile, and filled with dead tauntauns. (Photo courtesy of http://www.obh.snafu.de/~madley/starwars/Hoth/battle_hoth.jpg)
Child rearing is another unavoidable fact of life in the real world. Even now, your mom and dad are bursting with joy at the thought that you will soon have a son or daughter of your own to make you as miserable as you made your parents. Whatever you do, don’t get clever and try to avoid offspring by not having sex. Mary tried that and look what happened to her. In the aftermath of the reproductive process, be sure to beat your children regularly. It won’t teach them a thing about discipline, but it will help keep your skills sharp for beating your wife. Besides, you’ll never become a champion boxer by not punching your perpetually pregnant spouse.
Don’t expect your life to get any better when you leave your house to go to work. The real world is a place of arcane office rituals dating back to the dawn of man. There was a time when gaining the respect of your peers required you to kill a lion with your bare hands. In today’s civilized office environment, all it takes to gain respect is a cursory understanding of sporting events and the ability to withstand scalding hot coffee applied directly to your testicles. What started out as a bet gone too far is now the standardized test for awarding promotions in most corporate settings. And no, you can’t kill a lion instead. You need the money from the testicle-burn promotion to cover the cost of your wife’s medical bills and all of the boxing gloves you keep wearing out on her. I’d recommend just using your bare fists, but it’s a bad idea to sacrifice the soft, girlish hands for which men in the real world are so admired.
Truth be told, the disheartening grind of the forty hour-work week will entirely eclipse domestic abuse, puppy shootings, and other occasional bright spots in your life. It might sound like a horrible existence, but it’s far better than the alternative of going to graduate school. The best way to describe education beyond the bachelor’s degree is as a sort of living death where you get both the crippling financial burdens of the real world and the crippling academic burdens of the college one. As an added bonus, all of your friends will move on with their lives, leaving you to toil away in your own personal hell of cigarettes, coffee, and gonorrhea. Sexually transmitted diseases are to graduate students like bears are to honey. Next time you should probably read that admissions brochure more carefully. The same goes for the place you decide to rent, which, if you’re like most graduate students, will be an unheated shanty in the
Contrary to what everyone else will tell you, life pretty much ends after you earn your undergraduate degree. No matter where you go or what you do, all that awaits you are wild animal attacks, rigid dress codes, and pile upon pile of dead puppies. For those hoping to avoid this fate, there are few options. Failing your senior year isn’t such a bad idea. Neither is sending a letter of warning to your local animal shelter.